Bengur joins field in District 3

Friday, Oct. 14, 2005

Oz Bengur, an investment banker and treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party, has announced his candidacy for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

Bengur, 56, who ran against U.S. Rep. C.A. ‘‘Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Dist. 2) of Cockeysville in 2002, said ‘‘a confluence of events” led him to renew his bid for Congress.

He wants to replace Benjamin L. Cardin (D) of Baltimore, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Paul S. Sarbanes (D), who is retiring.

‘‘I felt somebody needs to start speaking out,” Bengur said. ‘‘If not me, then who?”

Bengur, who will step down as party treasurer as soon as a replacement is named, called himself the only candidate with a strong business background, a child serving in the military in Iraq and the willingness to oppose Republican stances on the Iraq war, education and the environment.

‘‘Democrats have to speak up with alternatives and come up with new ideas,” he said in an interview with Capital News Service. ‘‘That’s what I have done in my career and that’s what I will do when I’m elected.”

During his 20 years in investment banking, Bengur said, he helped state and local governments, their agencies and other companies secure millions of dollars in financing, including deals to develop low- to moderate-income housing in Maryland. He is a senior adviser for Bengur Bryan & Co. Inc., a Baltimore investment banking firm he co-founded in 1991.

‘‘Knowing how to run companies, knowing how to balance budgets, knowing how to make payroll” are important skills at a time of budgetary crisis in the country, said Greg Shaffer, Bengur’s campaign manager.

Bengur also helped develop alternative treatments for juvenile offenders and served on the boards of community organizations like the Baltimore Parks & People Foundation and the Baltimore County Public Library.

The Iraq war is a personal issue for Bengur, whose son, Noah, is a Marine lieutenant stationed at an air base west of Baghdad since late August.

‘‘Iraq affects me like nobody else in the race,” he said. ‘‘I have a deep concern for the lack of direction that this administration has in Iraq.”

Withdrawing troops immediately from Iraq is not a realistic goal, Bengur said. Instead, he wants the Bush administration to re-examine the objectives of the Iraq war.

‘‘We have to have a realistic assessment of what we’re trying to accomplish there, not platitudes about stopping terrorism,” he said, adding that Iraq harbored no terrorists before the U.S. invasion. ‘‘I think we’re doing a disservice to the Marines, soldiers and sailors over there.”

The last time he ran for Congress, Bengur raised about $200,000 from individual contributions and spent about $585,000 of his own money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

This time, Bengur has raised more than $100,000 in just the past month, Shaffer said, and his campaign does not foresee him having to use ‘‘a dime” of his own money.

Raised in Montgomery County by a Turkish father and American mother, Bengur, whose first name is short for Osman, received a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University and a graduate degree in criminology from Cambridge University in England. He is separated from his wife and has three children.

Bengur, who moved to Timonium in the 2nd District during his run against Ruppersberger, has lived in Rodgers Forge in the 3rd District for the past two years, Shaffer said. The 3rd District includes the city of Baltimore and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties.

John Sarbanes, the senator’s son, has told supporters he will announce a run for Cardin’s seat.

Other Democratic candidates include former Baltimore Health Commissioner D. Peter Beilenson, state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger (D-Dist. 11) of Pikesville and Del. Neil F. Quinter (D-Dist. 13) of Columbia.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens (D) and Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Dist. 11) of Baltimore, the congressman’s nephew, are considering bids.

Republican candidates include Scott Conwell, a Crofton lawyer, and Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Clerk Robert P. Duckworth of Crofton.